Project 365

I’ve been reading lately about people who commit to doing something creative for an entire year. It’s an interesting concept and one I’m thinking about trying. There are a couple things holding me back:
  1. What if I attempt it and don’t complete it?
  2. Are there enough different ways to be creative about something?
  3. When it gets hard will I push through or will I give up?
When I’m thinking about something, I read about it. I found a ton of interesting stuff on this concept. First, the guy who created and started calling it Project 365, Noah Scalin. He made a skull every day for a year (some of them are way cool). He’s also written a couple of books and in the promotion of his second book, Unstuck, there are a lot of articles talking about the project. Like this one.
Scalin has 6 ideas about how to come to the project in a way that helps stick to the commitment and not just think about it.
  1. Let go of preciousness
  2. Freedom comes from limitations
  3. Get out of your environement
  4. Get out of your comfort zone
  5. Get things by giving them away
  6. Collaborate

He expands on each of these in the linked article above. Go read it, it will only take a minute or two. (I’d buy the book, but I already took the “no new books” pledge.) He’s been featuring other Project 365’ers on his website and they’re all doing cool things too.


So, back to my initial questions.

  1. Attempt, but can’t complete?
    • So what? I’ve started things over and over and I keep starting them again. Scalin himself said that the Skull Project was his third attempt at a 365.
  2. Different ways to be creative?
    • Seriously? I’ve been stretching myself and trying different things my whole life. I sat here and thought of at least a dozen ways to create my  365 idea.
  3. Push through or give up?
    • Here’s the thing. For me, it’s like working out. If I know that someone’s waiting for me at the gym – I haul myself out of bed and go. If I know someone’s waiting to see me succeed (or fail) or simply to live the project along with me vicariously, that’s incentive enough to show up. Every. Day.
    • Anyone want to be a 365 buddy? We could bounce ideas off each other and shout encouragement through the interwebz.



I like the idea of doing a “thing” every day. It does help me to limit the box, so to speak. So my 2 ideas are either a giraffe or a snowman/woman/person. Any thoughts on which one I should do? Any ideas about materials to use? Any encouragement? Any naysayers? I’d love to hear from one and all. Drop me a comment and tell me what you think.

Allergies*

I’m sure I’ve talked at some point about my allergies, but not recently. Is there anyone in the US who isn’t allergic to something? I don’t think so. Here’s the thing, I’m allergic, but to weird stuff and it’s taken me years to figure it out. 


When the Hub and I came back from our honeymoon (1988), I was sick a lot. I would get up to go to work and feel so crappy that I’d just go back to bed. It took us 2 months to figure out that I was allergic to the flannel sheets we had bought at L.L. Bean – vicious cycle! Over the years, I’ve discovered that I’m also allergic to latex, bananas, and kiwi – they all come from the same kind of plant, so they’re all related and they all cause me to break out in hives.


I went through a really bad patch several years ago where I was tested for auto-immune disease (lupus, Cushings, rheumatoid arthritis) and they came up empty handed. My diagnosis was ultimately “chronic idiopathic urticaria”. Which essentially means that sometimes I have hives and no one can figure out what causes them. I take fexo-fenadine daily and that seems to have pushed them into submission.


Yesterday I was sitting in a meeting and I feel this weird spot on my chin. It was a cross between an itch and a crawling sensation. I touched my chin and felt a pea-sized lump and as soon as I touched it, it exploded in itchiness. I’m sitting across the table from my boss and I can feel my chin and lip start to swell up and itch like nobody’s business, but I can’t go anywhere or do anything about it.


By the time the meeting was over, my lower lip was completely hard to the touch and my chin was hot and bright red. When I got home, my daughter said, “Your mouth looks crooked.” Everything was so swollen that it was pushing my face out of whack. Extra anti-histamines took care of it, but it was still a little swollen this morning.


I try to figure out what causes each episode, because that’s the only way I can avoid the trigger. So, we were talking about it at breakfast and decided that maybe one of the people I shook hands with before the meeting yesterday had eaten a banana. Since I am incapable of not touching my face at any time, I must have transferred the allergen to myself during the course of the meeting. Am I destined to become one of those people who go around not shaking hands and instead have to bow to people?




*You’ll forgive me for not posting a picture. I actually Googled them and started itching just look at the images.

Today, I’m done

I left it all on the course today. I was up at 4:30, out the door by 5:30, in my office by 6:40. It was a non-stop e-mail, telephone, people walking into my office kind of day. Everyone needed something 10 minutes ago and it was REALLY, REALLY IMPORTANT !!eleventy!1!!.


So, now I’m back at home and I’m done. I want to crawl into my bed, turn off the light, fall into the deepest slumber ever, and not wake up until my alarm goes off tomorrow morning. Good night.

Review “Mad Men”

I love this show. The Hub and I started watching over the holiday break (he wasn’t as into it as I was). We sped through seasons 1 and 2 and then he went to Florida to teach some people how to fly. I wanted to make it last and only rent 1 disk at a time. Yesterday I was feeling so crappy that I threw caution to the wind and rented the first 2 disks of season 3. Then I sat and watched them both. (Now I’m kind of sad that I don’t have any to watch tonight.)


Why do I love it? It feels real to me. There are a few shows of which I have been a regular watcher as an adult, perhaps even a rabid watcher (The West Wing, I’ll Fly Away). In the case of West Wing (1999-2006), I loved it because it was how I wanted government to be – peopled with really smart people with the courage of their convictions. They worked and played hard and they argued, but always came back together. I’ll Fly Away (1991-1993) was the story of a family caught up in social upheaval – how they and the people around them reacted. They were confused, angry, and struggled to do the right thing. I never missed an episode of these shows because they transported me to a different place. Mad Men does that for me too.


During the first season, there were times when I had to walk away from the television. The casual demeaning of the secretaries – hell the forceful demeaning of any woman who stepped out of line. It was especially bad when the women did it to each other. I still click my tongue every now and again, but I can put it in the box of “the ’60s” and move on.


Did they drink and smoke that much in the 1960s? I don’t know – but again, it feels real. I do remember my parents had a bar set up in our house. They didn’t think twice about getting hammered at a party and then driving home. My dad would frequently stop at a bar to have drinks with co-workers after work and we lived in the midwest. I can imagine this is fairly true of a place like New York City. 


Everyone I knew had ashtrays all around the house. We had a couple that were actually free-standing and quite decorative. My dad even had a hookah. I remember people smoking in grocery stores and doctors offices. Hub and I decided that if we wanted to get completely lit, all we’d have to do is take a drink every time someone lit a cigarette. It would take 2 episodes, max, before I’d have to go lie down.


The bad marriages, the sleeping around, the closeted gays, the career “girls” who only worked until they got married – it all feels real. The added bonus is the visual impact of the show. The clothing, the furniture, the cars – those are the colors and styles I remember from my childhood.


I watch because the characters are intelligent people who don’t always know what they want, but keep moving forward. They struggle against the social mores and the narrow roles forced on them and it makes me want to assure them that things get better. It also makes me realize how far we actually have come and lets me hope that 40 years into the future there will be a television program that shows this time period and maybe it will make some sense.

Teeth

Last Thursday I went to the dentist, a place I’ve been to much too often in the last several months. I’m a grinder – not only at night when sleeping, but during the day, when annoyed. So I had a toothache and called the dentist. It’s a tooth that’s been hurting on a minor scale for a couple of weeks, but it has a really deep filling and I knew that at some point I would need a root canal and a crown.

She numbed my mouth and we chatted. Then she started the drill and I saw white sparks and thought I was going to come out of the chair. She put more numbing in and we chatted. The drill started and the pain was just as bad. She put MORE numbing in and went in really, really deep (it brought tears to my eyes). Then she went away for 20 minutes or so.


When she came back and started drilling again, the pain was right there. She decided I had a “hot tooth” (abscess) and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. I walked out in very little pain but half my head was numb. When the Novocaine wore off, it hurt – a lot.


So I’ve been taking antibiotics since Thursday afternoon and here it is Monday. The problem is, my jaw still hurts. I suspect that I actually have 2 teeth that are bad (right next to each other) and it’s the other tooth that’s hurting so much, but I can’t tell the difference because they’re too close.


I am not looking forward to this dentist visit. Either way, I’ll be numb and in pain when I leave. It’s making my head hurt just thinking about it.




Edited to add:
Only 1 root canal was necessary {jazz hands}! However, the pocket of infection was still so big that it blocked the novocaine and I spent a good 3 minutes digging my fingernails into the armrests of the chair while she drilled. As soon as the dentist broke through the filling, she was shooting novocaine directly onto the root of the tooth. Then she let me sit up for a few minutes to breath and relax. Now all that’s left is the grinding and the crown.

Book Review: “Death Comes to Pemberley”

Death Comes to Pemberley, P.D. James
originally published: December 2011
finished reading: 7 January 2012
cost: $25.95 (borrowed from friend)

P.D. James loves Austen. I’ve read a lot of fan-fiction and they all seem to love the characters, but James has an affinity for Austen herself that many of the other authors lack. This book feels closer to Jane Austen’s own style of writing than any other I’ve read (lots of description, very little dialogue). James has preserved the feel of the story while still taking it in a new direction. I will admit to being a bit of a purist and don’t like the jarring feeling when beloved characters do something I feel is out of character (one fan-fic book had Elizabeth calling Darcy “Fitzie”; even now it leaves a bad taste in my mouth).

The story itself isn’t much of a mystery. Yes there is a murder (you expected one) and of course there are intrigues, drunken routs, and daughters being meddled with. James deals with them all in the Edwardian style – gently. I appreciate that she delves a little more deeply into the interior lives of the characters. There are explanations of their actions in the characters’ own words – passages where both Elizabeth and Darcy think about their past behavior and how they feel about it now (shame, embarrassment, etc.). Austen herself never goes into these details (it would be unseemly), but James hits them on the head, explaining things to her 21st century audience that would have been clear to Austen’s audience.

There are also surprise appearances from other Austen characters (the Elliots of Persuasion and the Knightleys of Emma). These interludes diverted me excessively.

I sped through this lovely mash note in a day and wished it was just a little longer. I am intrigued and will search out other P.D. James novels and I’m hopeful they are as good as this one. I’m also left hoping that she turns her eye back to Austen and writes another sequel.

Book Review: “Pirate King”

Pirate King: A Novel of Suspense Featuring Mary Russell and Sherlock Holmes, Laurie R. King
originally published: December 2011
finished: 6 January 2012
cost*: $25.05 – borrowed from a friend


I will admit to being something of an Anglophile. I do love the British and their unique way of seeing things. Except…I emphatically do not love Gilbert and Sullivan. Never understood the attraction, don’t understand what people see the plays/operettas. I suspect the mashup of all that singing and all that duty are just too much for me. That said, the first half of this book focuses on The Pirates of Penzance. This is a book about making a movie about the making of a play within a play. Confused? Me too. 


There are too many people for me to keep track of: fourteen daughters of the Pirate King, thirteen pirates to match up with them, a translator who has multiple, poetical personalities, mothers, chaperones, and an anarchist parrot. There’s also a weird subplot where Mary Russell is trying to outguess Mycroft Holmes and goes from one extreme to the other trying to figure out what he wants her to do so she can do the opposite…which is exactly what he wants her to do. Confused? Me too.


By the second half of the book (which is, incidentally, when Holmes finally shows up) I understood enough to be able to figure out which characters are who. The tone of the book changes and becomes more of a mystery rather than a catalogue of Russell’s daily activities.


I love Mary Russell and will read these books until Laurie R. King stops writing them. It is not my favorite, but I suspect my feelings toward it might mellow with time and distance from G&S.




*I have taken the free book challenge this year. I will be reading from my personal library, borrowing from the actual library (or libraries of friends), reading free ebooks (classics), or using up gift cards. My goal is 65 books this year. (Last year I read 67.)

Dolly come home!!

That’s Dolly. She’s our 6.5 year old Brittany Spaniel and she’s missing. My son let her out while he put his boots on yesterday afternoon (4:00 pm) and when he went out to walk her, less than 10 minutes later, she was gone. The kids looked and looked and even my mother-in-law drove Little Big Man around looking.

I’ve put an add up on Craig’s list as well as a lost dog post at our county’s humane society. I’ll be calling the humane society in the next county over to see if they have her. I’ve printed 200 fliers that we’ll post around our house and the kids will be canvassing the neighbors today. I can’t think of anything else to do.


We live in a very rural area – she could be anywhere. There’s also a possibility that someone picked her up. We were never able to instill stranger danger in this dog. Once one of Little Big Man’s friends was coming over for a LAN party and his dad helped him carry in all of his equipment. The dad left and we were calling and calling for Dolly. A few minutes later the dad drove back up the driveway. Dolly had climbed into his car and didn’t come out until he was down the road. If someone was nice to her, she’d get in their car without a problem.


What absolutely shreds me is thinking that maybe she got hit by a car and is lying somewhere hurt and can’t get home. That wee little head thinking “Where are my people?”

Edited to add:
She’s home! The kids went out this morning, spoke to several neighbors, and handed out pictures. About 12:30 a woman called and said, “My dad has your dog” and gave me his address. Little Big Man went over and picked her up.


Apparently, the man walked out of his house to do some errands this morning and she was sitting on his lawn. When he came back at noon, she was still there…waiting. He called his daughter about “this little dog” and she called me. Happy, happy day!

2012: A Roadmap

I’ve been a follower of David Allen off and on for the last 3 years (or so). I don’t always follow GTD (Getting Things Done) to the letter and frequently do exactly what Allen says not to do, which is pick and choose what I want to do and leave the rest for “later” – of course “later” rarely comes.

Every January, Allen sends off an e-mail talking about what he does to review the past year and his plans for the new year. I have tried to do this and answer the questions, but it gets too hard and I quit. I’m going to take a little different tack this year and not try to review 2011, but I’m going to plan what to do in 2012. 

Is this more avoidance? Maybe. My problem in the past has been that I get bogged down trying to figure out what I did and never get to the planning for the future part. I need to start where I am and go from there. 

So, to that end, these are David Allen’s questions for the upcoming year:
Creating the new year

  • What would you like to be your biggest triumph in 2012?
    • work: get a grant funded
    • cjkoho: have gross sales of $5,000
    • personal: ride 500 miles on my bike
    • personal: pay down enough debt to be able to buy a car

  • What advice would you like to give yourself in 2012?
    • keep the agreements I make with myself
    • plan big projects and ship them


  • What is the major effort you are planning to improve your financial results in 2012?
    • personal: pack lunch instead of buying at the work cafeteria
    • personal: think about every cent I spend
      • is it necessary?
      • is there a less expensive alternative? 
      • need v. want
    • cjkoho: keep the Etsy shop fully stocked and ready for orders
    • cjkoho: work the shows I’m at – no sitting and waiting for people to ask questions – anticipate what they’re going to ask – sell, sell, sell (without being obnoxious)


  • What would you be most happy about completing in 2012?
    • work: getting the grant I’ve been chasing for 3 years
    • cjkoho: a successful show season (see gross sales comment above)
    • personal: riding my bike, feeling healthier


  • What major indulgence are you willing to experience in 2012?

 

  • What would you most like to change about yourself in 2012?
    • curtail procrastination (I would say eliminate, but let’s be realistic here)
    • avoidance of the things I want/need to do because they’re “hard”


  • What are you looking forward to learning in 2012?
    • work: SoCRA certification (for clinical research professionals)
    • personal: seeing how far I can go on my bike
    • cjkoho: pushing my dyeing/spinning to new heights


  • What do you think your biggest risk will be in 2012?
    •  the art piece I’ve committed to exhibiting in February

 

  • What about your work, are you most committed to changing and improving in 2012?
    • stop thinking about it and do it
    • work through the hard bits because they’re never as hard as I think they’re going to be
    • become the employee I would want to hire


  • What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore in 2012?
    •  they’re all undeveloped talents, aren’t they? or maybe just under-developed
      • blog writing
      • dyeing
      • spinning
      • strength training

 

  • What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that in 2012?
    • riding my bike
      • make the commitment and go
      • work through the fear of heading out the door
    • spinning
      • commit to a small amount of time every single day

  • Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving in 2012?
    • my children
    • my spouse
    • my fiber friends


  • What one word would you like to have as your theme in 2012?
    •  momentum

First Yarn of 2012

Again, in the quest to spin up the stash I dove in for another couple of chunks that would spin well together. 

Spunky Eclectic 80% Corriedale/20% Alpaca blend in the Cowgirl Blues colorway. I’m pretty sure someone gave this to me, because I would never have picked the colors myself. I ganked a photo that someone posted on Ravelry and this is exactly what my braid looked like. It’s essentially red, white, and blue on an amazing base. However, not my colors at all. The braid weighed 4 oz.  

Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver – Mulberry

The other bundle was a plastic bag filled with Ashford Merino/Silk Sliver (80/20) in the mulberry colorway. The label says it weighed 100 grams (3.5 oz) and I paid $11.75 for it. While I will spin 50/50 merino/silk all day long, I’m not quite sure what possessed me to buy this bag of fiber. It may have been a pick me up present at some point, but when I saw the blue mixed in with the rest, I thought, “Why??” You can see from the picture that it’s mostly a shade of purple, but has blue, red, white, and peach shot through. Both fibers were quite soft and I figured they would go well together.

2-ply

This blend spun up super fast. While I’m not partial to a lot of her colors, Spunky takes amazing care when she dyes and her braids are never compacted or over processed. Both of these were a dream to split and spin. In fact, I think I spun this (roughly) 8 oz in record time for me – about 2 days from start to finish.


The resulting yarn is lovely. Because I spun it so quickly, I didn’t have time to vary my spinning and it’s remarkably even. When I showed it to Jillian and said, why are all my blends with this technique turnout out purple. She looked at me with an incredulous look and said, “because you ALWAYS buy stuff that has purple in it!” Maybe it’s time to spin something other than this color.


fiber: 40% Corriedale/40% Merino/20% Alpaca/20% silk
weight: 6.7 oz
length: 283 yards
weight: worsted